Tobacco in India, Oral Cancer, IDP International Dentist Program, CAAPID Personal Statement Writing

Updated: Nov 18

Dentistry presented to me the perfect blend of the stimulation of academics with the satisfaction of human interaction and nowhere was this satisfaction more prominent than in oral medicine and radiology. I am an Indian dentist who hopes to be accepted for one of the limited spaces in your competitive DDS Program not only on the basis of my experience in dentistry, but also, the great passion that I have for oral health care education; especially, with respect to the prevention of oral cancer in my home country, India.

For many years now, I have watched with deep dismay how a huge proportion of the many millions of Indians that live on less than a dollar a day, spend much of their income on tobacco products, chewing, smoking or both. Most of these people eat once a day and many of them will choose to forgo that meal if necessary in order to buy tobacco. Sooner or later this leads to a miserable death, more often than not from oral cancer. It is not surprising that given a lack of awareness or concern for the effects of tobacco use, combined with a lack of resources for health care, oral cancer takes a staggering toll. The problem is aggravated still further by the fact that, during my lifetime, India is poised to pass China as the world’s most populous nation, with the highest oral cancer rates in the world.

My education in India was a sustained immersion experience in dentistry that lasted from September of 2004 to May of 2013, with the last three years spent earning my Masters Degree (MDS) in Oral Medicine and Radiology passionately working towards securing a residency in this challenging and highly competitive field. My quest to learn more about dentistry was greatly advanced when I started learning about advanced modalities and radiographic techniques for the entire head and neck region, digital Orthopantomogram (OPG), CBCT, MRI, and radiotherapy for cancer patients. My posting in the Cancer Department of a government hospital, one of the biggest in Asia and a major western regional center for cancer treatment and diagnosis in India has been the highlight of my life so far.  I also worked as a volunteer in India providing treatment for Oral sub mucous fibrosis (OSMF), people who are unable to open their mouth because of tobacco chewing.

Before moving to the USA, my professional duties with the Gujarat Cancer Research Institute as an Oral Diagnostician and Maxillofacial Radiologist included diagnosing pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions of oral structure. Always acutely conscious of the fact that patients do not usually show symptoms of oral cancer at the initial stage, I was keenly aware of the life-death nature of what I was doing. In fact, as soon as I graduated from my Master’s Program in Oral Medicine and Radiology, I was busy doing biopsies of countless patients suspected of having oral cancer, and after residency, especially enjoyed working  as an Assistant professor teaching India’s dentists of tomorrow.

In addition to never failing to attend as many conferences as I could, I have published several articles and I am devoted to lifelong learning, research, and publication. Most of my research so far has been concerned with Salivary Glucose levels in Diabetic Patients and I look forward to doing further research in this area, improving our special abilities to care for diabetic patients.

I have been engaged as a volunteer for several months now with an organization named "Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation,” helping homeless people. I am working in the food pantry, preparing and serving breakfast and lunch. Increasingly, I am also becoming involved in case management, and trying to find government grants to help these people. I volunteered at 9/11 Mega Blood Drive organized by the American Red Cross.  Within a few days of my arrival in USA, I was already shadowing as a volunteer at the dental clinics of Dr. XXXX and Dr. XXXX in Jersey City where I remain until today, learning as much as possible from these gracious doctors who have taken me under their wing.

I also want to devote as much time as possible here in America to oral health public education and awareness campaigns especially those geared specifically to helping the underserved. I find myself especially drawn to homeless people and their plight, both in India and in the USA, and I hope to spend a great deal of my time and energy in this area in the future.

I thank you for considering my application to your competitive program.

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